WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA --- Real-time traffic and voice recognition are becoming increasingly popular features among owners of factory-installed navigation systems, compared with 2008, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Navigation Usage and Satisfaction Study

The newest version of the study, released this month, finds that 26 percent of owners report having a factory-installed navigation system equipped with real-time traffic capabilities. That's twice the proportion of owners in 2008 who said the same. 

Among owners whose systems do not currently have the real-time traffic feature, nearly 80 percent report interest in having the option in the future. Real-time traffic capability has a considerable impact on overall navigation system satisfaction, as satisfaction averages 8.1 (on a 10-point scale) among owners with the feature, compared with 7.3 among those without. 

Approximately 60 percent of owners report having voice recognition on their factory-installed navigation system. Among those owners who do not currently have the feature, two-thirds of respondents express an interest in having it in the future. Overall navigation system satisfaction is positively impacted by the presence of voice recognition. Among owners who report having the feature, satisfaction averages 7.7 compared with an average of 7.2 among owners of systems without voice recognition technology. 

"Among the 10 navigation systems with the highest levels of customer satisfaction, all of them have real-time traffic capabilities, and a majority are equipped with voice recognition -- underlining the positive effect these advanced features have on overall navigation system satisfaction," said Mike Marshall, director of automotive emerging technologies at J.D. Power and Associates. "With 39 percent of consumers in the study reporting that they would have purchased another vehicle if navigation wasn't available (up from 31 percent in 2006), there is a growing segment of automotive consumers who are driven by technology. Integrating and delivering advanced user-facing technology in vehicles will continue to gain importance among manufacturers fighting for market share." 

Now in its 11th year, the study identifies six factors that contribute to overall customer satisfaction. In order of importance, they are: ease of use, system routing, system appearance, voice directions, navigation display screen, and speed of system. The study also measures quality by examining problems per 100 (PP100) navigation systems, in which a lower score reflects higher quality. 

The Clarion navigation system supplied to the Lincoln MKS ranks highest in consumer satisfaction with factory-installed navigation systems and performs particularly well with the ease-of-use factor. The Clarion navigation system supplied to the Ford Flex follows in the rankings, while the Pioneer navigation system in the Acura TL ranks third. 

The study also finds the following navigation system trends:

  • More than one-half of respondents report using their system on a regular basis (at least one to two times per week).
  • Among consumers who have previously owned a vehicle equipped with a factory-installed navigation system, approximately 80 percent say that their current system is performing at the same level or better than their previous system.
  • Approximately one-fourth of consumers say they believe that an annual update for mapping software is necessary and would be willing to pay an average price of $57 for updates. 

The 2009 Navigation Usage and Satisfaction Study is based on responses from 16,939 owners who recently purchased or leased new 2009 model-year vehicles with factory-installed navigation systems. The study was fielded in October 2009.